Blackwood Grain Free and Sensitive Diet Recipes (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Blackwood Grain Free and Sensitive Diet Recipes Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Blackwood Grain Free and Sensitive Diet Recipes product line includes six dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Blackwood ALS Special Diet Lamb Meal and Brown Rice
  • Blackwood ALS Special Diet Salmon Meal and Brown Rice
  • Blackwood ALS Special Diet Buffalo Meal and Field Pea Grain Free
  • Blackwood ALS Special Diet Salmon Meal and Field Pea Grain Free
  • Blackwood ALS Special Diet Chicken Meal and Field Pea Grain Free
  • Blackwood 5000 ALS Special Diet Catfish Meal and Pearled Barley (3.5 stars)

Blackwood All Life Stages Special Diet Buffalo Meal and Field Pea Grain Free was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Blackwood All Life Stages Special Diet Buffalo Meal and Field Pea Grain Free

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 31% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 44%

Ingredients: Buffalo meal, field pea, chickpeas, lentils, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), whitefish meal, tapioca starch, calcium carbonate, chicken cartilage, carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress, spinach, natural flavor, whole ground flaxseed, menhaden fish oil, lecithin, monosodium phosphate, dl-methionine, kelp meal, apple, ground rosemary, ground thyme, ground cumin, ground yellow mustard, crushed red chili pepper, salt, pumpkin meal, l-lysine, Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product dehydrated, blueberry, cranberry, choline chloride, Yucca schidigera extract, fructooligosaccharide (FOS), glucosamine hydrochloride, vitamin E supplement, ascorbic acid, niacin supplement, organic dried kelp, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A acetate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, citric acid, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, potassium chloride, iron sulfate, zinc sulfate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, zinc oxide, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, manganous oxide, sodium selenite, calcium iodate

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis28%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis31%17%44%
Calorie Weighted Basis27%35%38%

The first ingredient in this dog food is buffalo meal. Buffalo meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh buffalo.

The second ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The third ingredient is chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, bean and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.

However, chickpeas contain about 22% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient is lentils. Lentils are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, lentils contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

We also note that the last three ingredients included above in this recipe are all legumes:

  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils

Although they’re a mixture of quality plant ingredients, there’s an important issue to consider here. And that’s the recipe design practice known as ingredient splitting.

So, if we were to combine all three of these items together and report them as one, that new singular mixture would almost certainly occupy a higher position on the list — possibly making it (rather than meat) the predominant ingredient in this recipe.

The fifth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

The sixth ingredient includes whitefish meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

The seventh ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.

The eighth ingredient is calcium carbonate, likely used here as a dietary mineral supplement.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With four notable exceptions

First, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

Next, this recipe includes menhaden fish oil. Menhaden are small ocean fish related to herring. Their oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids, two high quality fats boasting the highest bio-availability to both dogs and humans.

What’s more, in their mid-depth habitat, menhaden are not as likely to be exposed to mercury contamination as is typical with deep water species.

In addition, this recipe contains fructooligosaccharide, an alternative sweetener2 probably used here as a prebiotic. Prebiotics function to support the growth of healthy bacteria in the large intestine.

And lastly, this food also contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Blackwood Grain Free
and Sensitive Diet Recipes Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Blackwood Grain Free and Sensitive Diet Recipes looks like an above-average dry dog food.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 31%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 44%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 47% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.

Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, lentils, chickpeas and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Blackwood Grain Free and Sensitive Diet Recipes is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of various meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every report is directly dependent upon the quality of that data.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

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However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

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Notes and Updates

09/12/2014 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Wikipedia definition